Common responses after COVID-19 vaccination

 The most common reactions and adverse events after vaccination include, pain at the sitewhere the vaccine was injected, headache, fatigue, dizziness, muscle aches, nausea and generalised ‘flu-like symptoms.

Find out more about common responses to the Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech) vaccine on our page about vaccine safety. More information about what to expect after the vaccination is also available on the Ministry of Health's website.

Managing common reactions

  • Injection site pain can be soothed with a cold cloth or ice pack (do not rub or massage)
  • Rest and drink plenty of water. Paracetamol or ibuprofen (if indicated) can help to reduce symptoms, if taken according to manufacturers instructions.
  • Some people (around 1 in 4) feel unable to do their normal activities or work the day after vaccination. 

Immunisation stress related responses

Other adverse events reported following vaccination can be associated with stress or anxiety responses to being injected – dizziness, fainting, rapid heartbeat. These usually occur during or immediately after vaccination.

Please find Immunisation stress-related responses v3 here.

Severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis

  • Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) can occur almost immediately after any vaccination.
  • This very rare but life-threatening reaction (around 5 cases per million doses) is treatable with a prompt injection of adrenaline.
  • All vaccinators are required to know how to do CPR and administer adrenaline, and to know how to distinguish anaphylaxis from stress-related responses, such as fainting, palpitations or vomiting. 
  • Everyone is advised to wait for at least 20 minutes after their COVID-19 vaccination for observation.
  • People with a history of immediate allergic reactions of other products are advised to wait a little longer for observation.
  • Comirnaty should not be given to those who have previously had an anaphylactic reaction after a previous dose of that vaccine or its components. 

For further information about allergy precautions see our page on COVID-19 vaccine safety in pregnancy and special groups.

Related links and resources (see right-hand menu)

Last updated: 16 February 2022